Premier Brad Wall announced today that Dr. Gary Siskin of the Albany Medical Centre is in the final stages of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the largest Liberation Therapy clinical trial of its type, and that Saskatchewan Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients can now apply to volunteer to participate in the trial.
"We're keeping our promise to help find answers for patients," Wall said. "Saskatchewan has aggressively pursued options to advance MS research, and we will continue to support studies that will accomplish that goal. We owe that to the 3,500 people in Saskatchewan with MS."
The province is providing $2.2 million in funding to have 86 Saskatchewan MS patients included in the two-year, double-blind clinical trial at Albany Medical Centre in Albany, New York - the largest double-blind liberation therapy study to date.
"It's exciting to be able to offer Saskatchewan patients an opportunity to be involved in this controlled, reputable clinical study," Health Minister Don McMorris said. "We hope it will answer some of the questions about Liberation Therapy as a treatment for MS."
Applying does not guarantee participation in the research. Prospective candidates will be randomly selected from all applications to ensure that everyone has an equal chance to participate. They will then be screened for eligibility and medically assessed. Those invited to participate will be contacted over the next few months, with the first patients expected to travel to Albany in March 2012.
Patients interested in volunteering for the study may apply online at www.health.gov.sk.ca/ms-clinical-trial or by calling 1-855-690-9901. Applications will be accepted until February 24.
"Our research team is ready to accept patients and begin gathering data," vascular and interventional radiologist who is leading the Albany research team Dr. Siskin said. "Patients will need to understand that half of those participating will have the angioplasty procedure and half will not. As a result, this research will give us sound, scientific evidence upon which we can base decisions about the role of treating CCSVI in patients with MS."
A Regina neurologist will assist the Albany research team with assessment, referrals and ongoing monitoring of Saskatchewan participants.
"The MS Society of Canada commends the Government of Saskatchewan in taking this bold step on the path to improving the health and well-being of those living with MS," Government Relations Chair and Member of the Saskatchewan and National Boards of the MS Society of Canada Eugene Paquin said. "We anticipate that it will result in new information and answers for MS patients and their families. Saskatchewan has shown outstanding leadership on MS research and we look forward to partnering with them in support of this initiative."
McMorris stated that Saskatchewan remains interested in participating in pan-Canadian research into the Liberation Therapy, announced last summer by the Canadian Institute for Health Research.
In 2010, Saskatchewan was the first province in Canada to commit funding for research into the Liberation Therapy's effectiveness in treating MS symptoms. Other provinces have since announced similar intentions, or initiatives to create MS patient registries or databases on those who have received the treatment.
Multiple Sclerosis is a neurological disease in which the communication ability of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord is impaired or destroyed. An estimated 3,500 Saskatchewan residents have MS. Canada's prevalence rate of MS is among the highest in the world at 240 per 100,000 people; in the prairies, the rate is 340 per 100,000 people.